Meaning Behind the Disney Song Shiny: A victim of Bullies Becomes a Bully Himself

in #philosophy6 years ago


Moana-Shiny-Tamatoa (1).jpg

One of my favorite parts in the Disney movie Moana is the scene with Tamatoa and his song “Shiny.” Not only is the song extremely catchy but it also has some interesting lyrics. Tamatoa’s perspective is basically the opposite of what we are used to hearing in society – that beauty is only skin deep and that a person’s inner beauty is what really matters. This perspective makes sense keeping in mind that Tamatoa is a villain in the film. But maybe there is more to Tamatoa's story than meets the eye?

For fun, I’ve decide to offer my own analysis and interpretation of the meaning behind the lyrics.

Credits: Music, lyrics and images are from the Disney film Moana. Music and lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Mark Mancina. Performance by Jemaine Clement as Tamatoa.

“Shiny” the Lyrics and Interpretation

Tamatoa_Moana (1).jpg

Well, Tamatoa hasn't always been this glam
I was a drab little crab once.
Now I know I can be happy as a clam
Because I'm beautiful, baby.

Did your granny say listen to your heart
Be who you are on the inside?

I need three words to tear her argument apart
Your granny lied!
I'd rather be...

Like a treasure from a sunken pirate wreck
Scrub the deck and make it look...

I will sparkle like a wealthy woman's neck
Just a sec!

Tamatoa starts by discussing his past. As a child he was a bit “drab” (dull and boring) in appearance and because of that, he was ignored or possibly even bullied by his peers. He grew up unhappy and bitter, thinking that appearance is everything and that exterior beauty is all that matters in life.

In order to feel happy he has spent his days trying to make his outward appearance beautiful. He has gathered shiny objects that sparkle and he has attached them to himself. Now he shines like a bejeweled necklace hanging around a woman’s neck.

He states that the idea of beauty being on the inside is actually a lie that we are told by our family and our grandparents and by society in general. He believes that this is a falsehood that we tell each other in order to make ourselves feel good.

I get the sense that his beliefs and feelings are based on his experience of being bullied and put down as a child. He believes that he was bullied because of his looks. Maybe at one point he was actually a very kind person with a beautiful soul, but then over time he became bitter and resentful towards others because he was constantly being ostracized by society. Now he wants revenge.

Tamatoa-in-Moana-f7aca6e7-0dc2-43fa-bec3-b8528bbe1374 (1).jpg

Don't you know
Fish are dumb, dumb, dumb
They chase anything that glitters (beginners!)

Oh, and here they come, come, come
To the brightest thing that glitters
Mmm, fish dinners

I just love free food
And you look like seafood
(Like seafood)

Fish in this context represent shallow individuals in society who only care about appearances and outward beauty. Now, as an adult, Tamatoa is the brightest and shiniest person in his environment and he attracts those shallow souls…and consumes them.

moana (1).jpg

Well, well, well
Little Maui's having trouble with his look
You little semi-demi-mini-god

Ouch! What a terrible performance
Get the hook (get it?)
You don't swing it like you used to, man

Yet I have to give you credit for my start
And your tattoos on the outside
For just like you I made myself a work of art

I'll never hide; I can't, I'm too...

For a minute here Tamatoa relates to Maui and the tattoos on his skin. He views the tattoos as another way of imitating natural beauty. He states that the tattoos make Maui into a work of art just like the shiny objects on his shell also make him a work of art.

I get the impression that Tamatoa used to hide himself, ashamed by his appearance. Now he no longer hides. He is confident. He’s Shiny!

Bioluminescent_Tamatoa (1).jpg

Watch me dazzle like a diamond in the rough
Strut my stuff; my stuff is so...

Send your armies but they'll never be enough
My shell's too tough

Maui man, you can try, try, try
But you can't expect a demi-god
To beat a decapod (look it up)
You will die, die, die

Tamatoa speaks about armies being sent against him and being too tough. I interpret the armies as being representations of bullies in society. They represent the individuals who would pick on him as a child. Over time, Tamatoa has developed a hard exterior defense (his shell) which protects him from their ridicule. He can no longer be beat. He is too tough and confident.

Now he is the bully who beats others. Tamatoa is a classic example of a victim of being bullied, becoming a bully.

Tamatoa-7 (1).jpg

Now it's time for me to take apart
Your aching heart

Far from the ones who abandoned you
Chasing the love of these humans
Who made you feel wanted

You tried to be tough
But your armor's just not hard enough

Again, Tamatoa relates to Maui in that both of them were outcasts of society. Maui was abandoned as a child just as Tamatoa was abandoned by society. In a way he empathizes with Maui because they have had a very similar experience.

But empathy quickly turns into hatred. He views the fact that Maui continues to seek approval from the humans that abandoned him as a weakness. If only Maui would have turned against humanity like he did, they could have worked together to destroy the humans. Instead it is Maui who must be destroyed.

Maui_agaisnt_Tamatoa (1).jpg

Now it's time to kick your...
Ever seen someone so...

Soak it in 'cause it's the last you'll ever see
C'est la vie, mon ami
I'm so...

Now I eat you, so prepare your final plea
Just for me
You'll never be quite as...
You wish you were nice and...

3024992649c1a8fefa5b62ce3687b5b7 (1).jpg

So to conclude, it seems that Tamatoa was once a good person. But he was picked on and bullied as a kid by others because of his looks. He was told by his family and society in general that beauty was on the inside - yet he was continuously bullied despite being a good person. Over time he became bitter and resentful towards others. He developed a hard exterior defense and made it his life mission to become beautiful in appearance so he could attract others to him and destroy them. Tamatoa is a victim of bullies who ultimately became one himself.

The Song “Shiny”

Thanks For Reading


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